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Cenotaph conservation works underway

Friday 28 August

Conservation works are now underway on the Bairnsdale Cenotaph, led by East Gippsland Shire Council in consultation with the Bairnsdale RSL sub-branch. 


In 2015, Council engaged a heritage and conservation consultant to provide a condition assessment of the cenotaph. Council has now initiated the Cenotaph Restoration Project to undertake the much-needed repair works on the First World War Memorial in line with those recommendations. 


Mayor Cr John White said that community war memorials play an important part in preserving the memory of those men and women who served our country for years to come. 


“War memorials, like the Bairnsdale Cenotaph, are central to the way the community preserves history of the sacrifices made by the men and women who served our country,” Cr White said.


“By undertaking these much-needed restoration works, we are ensuring that their legacy continues and allows the community to pay their respects.”


Council’s General Manager Assets and Environment Fiona Weigall said that due to the poor condition of the cenotaph the conservation works require suitably qualified and experienced specialist contractors. 


“The cenotaph is in poor condition largely due to the inferior quality of the sandstone used when it was erected. Unsympathetic repairs in the past have further contributed to the deterioration. The works required experienced and specialist stonemasonry and copper metal working contractors who are familiar with the conservation philosophy and how it affects the approach to particular tasks,” Ms Weigall said.


Following a public tender, Council award the contract to Cathedral Stone who are a premier specialist in conservation projects.


“Cathedral Stone has now erected scaffold, which is fully wrapped. By doing this, water penetration into the sandstone is reduced and will adequately protect the sensitive works from the elements. This also allows for a controlled environment which is important for the curing of the mortars,” Ms. Weigall said. 


During the restoration, Cathedral Stone will undertake the following works:

  • Cleaning — removal of biological growths on the sandstone and a steam clean of the bluestone plinth. 
  • Dismantling and removal of decayed stones from the shaft 
  • Other stones not as badly degraded will be repaired
  • Cleaning and repairs to joints and crack in granite panels
  • Repairs to joints and losses in bluestone plinth
  • Repairs to marble crosses - extraction of copper stains and buffing previously ground surfaces to produce a honed finish
  • Conservation of bronze elements
  • Installation of a copper flashing 
  • Recutting, repainting and regilding inscriptions


The works commenced last month following the de-consecration ceremony performed by Rt. Revd. Dr Richard Treloar, Bishop of Gippsland. 


The project is jointly funded by Council and the Federal Government, who have contributed $137,000 in funding under the Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program. 



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